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Mental Health Awareness: Real Stories By Real People [Vol 1, April 2022]

According to the Ministry of Health Malaysia, 1 in 3 Malaysians have mental health issues, with highest prevalence among those aged 16-19 years.

In light of this alarming rate, we have decided to use our platform as a way to raise awareness for mental health. Below are 5 of the many stories that were shared to us.

Our goal is for these stories to relate to those of you who are facing the same situation/hardship, to let you know that you’re NOT alone.

“Always be kind, because everyone is fighting their own demons.”

Story 1

​​Hey Scentses&Co team!

After reading your email I would love to share my story with you about my mental health and how I grew to where I am today.

So as a kid growing up, my aunties always said I was fat as a kid and honestly, because of that whenever someone were to say that I looked a bit more on the plus side, I would feel really bad for myself. But the thing is why? What did younger me do that I should feel bad about? I was young and didn’t know why these things were important anyways.

 *Fast forward to when I was 17. I met this guy that I liked and in order to spend time with him I went to the gym with him to see him for extra days😂 But because of this guy I started to take care of my physical being and my food intake. I went through an ED phase as well but thankfully I managed to pull myself together before I let it get out of control.

*Fast forward to today* I’ve had so many mental health issues that caused me to lose my friends and my jobs - I quit working a job I just started after 1 week because I was so stressed out and I was pressuring myself when I was new in the industry. I took about a 7 month break, taking my time to do freelancing in my florist and baking, and in January of 2022, I joined a content creating company and I never could have been more grateful for the impact this company has made in my life so far. It's Mental Health Month, to whoever out there who is struggling with their own problems, know you’re not alone. 

Photo by Ken Tomita

Story 2

Hi,

I’ve read your email and thought this would be a good time as any to share my supposedly “childhood trauma”. I’ve never shared this with anyone, my problems are not nearly as big enough for others to take notice, yet I’ve struggled with it all the same.

I grew up with an autistic sister. But at the time, she was undiagnosed (still is unofficially diagnosed). She had a mild case of autism and to anyone but us, that was considered a blessing. I’m not saying my sister is horrible but only someone who has autistic siblings would know the struggle I had to live with. Although hers was mild, her tantrums spoke otherwise. I remember thinking why my parents were so lenient with her but strict with me. Even my aunts and uncles and cousins seem to give her the blind eye whenever she acts up. They would treat her “as is” and didn’t see the point of correcting her behaviour. When in reality, they knew it would make her spoiled and rude.

It was unfair. A horrible feeling to grow up with thinking you’re never gonna be “just” enough.

I struggled with this for many years, thinking I was unworthy of attention. No matter what I did my sister would always try to best me, and if she can’t? Well, there's always a way to undermine my success. Putting people down was her favourite pastime after all.

It hurts more when my sister tells me I was the golden child that everybody loved. When in reality, she couldn’t see the depth of despair that overcame me when I was surrounded by family. Everybody seemed to flock to her, never a glance towards me, the youngest. Older siblings would always say the youngest is the luckiest, most fortunate.

Is it fortunate being the last? The one that's always left out? The one that's underestimated and considered useless just because of their younger age?

It is lonely being the youngest. Nobody to talk to but your own consciousness. The one that has everybody’s back but her own. The one with a voice they wouldn’t dream to hear.

Signed,
The Youngest

Photo by Harper Sunday

Story 3

Hi Scentses team!

Your email below regarding mental health awareness struck a chord. I would like to share a little bit from my side.

Mental illness is something that I have been hearing about for many years, but never fully understood until recently. There were times I would cry before sleep and sometimes at my workstation. I thought "it must be one of those days". It has been going on for a while, but I would shrug it off until I had a traumatic event happen 2 months ago. I broke down at home - could not stop crying, sleepless night, and my heartbeat would beat so fast. Only until I was on a call with a friend, she pointed out that I could be having anxiety attacks and depression.

My friend asked me to go for a check up before it gets worse. True enough, after seeing a doctor, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression on High Risk. It was one test after another.

It was a struggle to be working from home and feeling so blue. Going to the hospital for appointments was a joy for me, knowing someone out there was going to help out. I even seek out therapy sessions from a private company who is attached to my working place. My therapist supported and helped out on why I was feeling anxious and why there was depression - a lot of pain, trauma from my past that was not resolved. From there, I managed to sit down on my own and start to write down what were the issues that built up throughout the years.

My biggest supporter is my niece who has been kind enough to be with me every single day and encourages me to have a gentle, positive mind even on rough days.

My journey towards a clear, healthy mind has been at a slow pace, but positive in a way. I created my own self-care journey such as:

1. Stay away from people who constantly complain or give negative vibes.
2. Take time to pray at a calm pace but fulfilling.
3. I use a sleeping spray which I use to spray my room, open up my windows a bit at night and make sure my room was chill enough for me to sleep-in.
4. Listen to my favourite songs & sing while doing my work at home.
5. Change my shower gel & skincare to more suitable ones.
6. Unfollow any accounts on social media that give out negative vibes.
7. Cut down on caffeine, more water & healthy snacks.
8. Go out for a good brunch on weekends!
9. Use a thought journal to ease my mind.
10. Sleep early and sleep well!

It has been tough, but I know I will recover. Sometimes, I get tear up because it can be exhausting and challenging. I know I can do this and hope people would understand more on mental illness rather than to shrug it off as something that is not even an illness.

Typing this down lightens the burden of the illness. Today was rough but thank you :) You have made me feel a little better.

Regards,
Anonymous

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Story 4

Story by Anne Yani

"Did a full 180°, crazy, thinking bout the way I was" Dua Lipa

I suppose the biggest shift for me has been my health: mentally and physically. I had been experiencing health issues here and there over 2020, 2021 and needed to make some lifestyle changes to stay healthy. Needless to say my mental health had taken a toll too; I've always struggled with anxiety and depression; so adding the burden of "get your health together" honestly exhausted me--when will this be over, why am I not good enough--.

I tried though. I tried really hard and I kept at it. What was killing me mentally, was also making me stronger physically. Double edge sword and what not. I had to keep focused on the end goal and remind myself that it'll all be worth it soon enough.

11 months later and I'm all the better for it. I've come on track and my mental health has also improved by default too. Working on yourself is hard,...so hard...but so worth it when you actually see results and the light at the end of the tunnel. A never ending journey, but a beautiful one when self love and nurturing are put first 😊

Hope this inspires others too 🌻

Photo by Thought Catalog

Story 5

Scentses and Co + Team,

Thank you for approaching me. It's good to know that people care about mental health issues these days. I'm no expert on this matter. However, I believe that I struggle with it as well.

I've noticed that I've been forgetting a lot of things instead of remembering them. There are lots of signs that I've noticed, though I'm not confident in bringing this to my family as I think I could hold on for now. Though I do believe that everyone deals with mental health differently, I think it is good that people seek help when they are in need. I seek help from my friend, the one who I can fully trust. Their presence truly helps me in times of need. I am better now. Not fully recovered, but better.

Sincerely,
AH

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you can realise is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it, you’re not gonna be the last to go through it,” — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Wherever you are, you’re never alone. Stay strong and reach out when you need help.

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